The Oakland Planning Commission has approved a proposal put forth by the Oakland Planning Department that defines animals as plants. I need your help making sure it doesn't passed as written by the Oakland City Council, the next and final step in this long drawn-out process. The officials of Oakland need to understand that Animals Are Not Plants. Please listen to this short message and get involved to help me stop this. Join my mailing list today to get notified! (See sidebar.)more
For hundreds of millennia, our ancestors were one weak species in the struggle for survival. With weapons and will, we came to dominate all other species, even many of the predators for whom we were prey. In order to maintain this position, it became essential for us not only to deny our own animal-ness but to also deny non-human animals any emotions, behaviors, or traits that we reserve only for humans.
Thus, the most offensive thing you could call someone is an “animal,” and the quickest way to undermine animal advocates is to accuse them of “anthropomorphism.”
And yet, although it's generally frowned upon to attribute what we consider “human” emotions onto non-human animals – love, joy, or sadness – we don't seem to consider it anthropomorphism when we project NEGATIVE human traits onto animals. We unabashedly characterize rats as smarmy and deceptive; pigs as dirty, fat, slovenly, and gluttonous; snakes as sinister, evil, and manipulative; and cattle, sheep, or any herd animal as stupid.
In other words, if I were to say my cat loves me, I could be accused of...more
As if they were waiting for me and knew I was coming, the deer appeared just as I stepped into the kitchen and looked out the window.
One of the first things we did when we bought this house was to install a much larger window and tear down the old wooden ivy-covered fence that hindered the view of the hillside.
Now, several times a day, I have the pleasure of watching the deer bounding down from the upper part of the hill, the squirrels fearlessly running along the crooked arms of the oak trees, and the occasional foxes and wild turkeys surveying this shady side of our yard.
The momma deer, who I’ve named Ella, and her two quickly growing fawns (Athena and Attica), headed straight for the container of water I keep fresh for them (and whoever else wants to partake). I was close enough to hear their slurps and watch the waterdrops fall from their mouths.
This is just one of the water features I have around our house, and they’re welcome respites for the thirsty critters who’ve made our home their home. (Although it’s probably more accurate to say we’ve...more
As much as I'm happy to debunk myths and stereotypes about what it means to be vegan and an animal advocate, I'm happy to do the same for my beloved city of Oakland.
Oakland is many things, though the media tends to paint it with one single brush resulting in an image that comes out looking pretty distorted. One aspect of Oakland I love is the greenery. The regional park system in the East Bay is incredible and mostly unknown to those outside of the area (including those who live just across the Bay Bridge).
While I take advantage of the hiking trails at least once a week, I also revel in my own urban wildland right in my back, front, and side yards. Working from home, I know the comings and goings of all of the critters (well, generally speaking) who grace our property daily, and I'm amazed I get any work done at all. If I hear the slightest indication that someone is outside my window, I must investigate, and that means my camera is always by my side.
Although the deer make frequent appearances - much to my delight - several foxes are now permanent...more
On Sunday, September 7th, a mountain lion grabbed a little boy who was hiking with his family, thinking he was a prey animal. The authorities have decided out the "safety of the public," they will hunt him down and kill him.
Unfortunately, some media outlets are missing an opportunity to educate the public about this issue; some are demonizing this animal. (The San Jose Mercury even has this story categorized under their Courts and Crime section.)
Please contact the various news agencies and make sure they include in their stories that:
-Encounters with mountain lions are very rare. In fact, since 1986, there have been only 14 incidents in California.
-Mountain lions are afraid of humans, and that's a good thing. Considering how many people there are in California encroaching upon their territory - hiking, cycling, camping - the fact that there are so few encounters is pretty remarkable.
-Because of their fear of humans (they don't perceive humans as prey), when hiking in their habitat, implement suggestions about making noise to avoid an...more
Join me for today's episode filled with wonderful questions from callers, such as what to do when a butcher shop moves in across the street; how to deal with "compassion fatigue": coping with the sadness of our society's rampant institutionalized animal abuse; and one from a doctor who looked for some guidance on how to talk to her patients about plant-based options. The main takeaway from today's episode is how much power compassion has to change the world. Listen by clicking on the play button below or through iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud!
Thank you to all of the listener supporters and to The American Anti-Vivisection Society and Tofurky for making this podcast possible. Please support the podcast in one of two ways: become a monthly supporter or...more
The number of vitriolic posts about Joan Rivers in the vegan and animal rights community has saddened me deeply. I'm just thankful I stopped wearing rabbit fur, leather, and wool; eating animals; and drinking animals' milk lest I wind up in the crosshairs of all the enlightened folks who think their compassion for animals is heightened by spitting on someone's grave. Having humility and showing restraint doesn't mean you agree with animal abuse. It means you remember what it was like to be completely unaware of the violence against animals you once participated in.
I talk about what I believe compassion is all about in my podcast episode called How to Talk to Hunters (or anyone else with whom you disagree). Listen below.more
On a recent trip to Italy, while touring the baths in the preserved city of Pompeii, a woman in my group looked up at a graphical depiction of a boy swimming with a dolphin and declared that the ancient Romans must have loved animals. I conceded that they most likely regarded animals with awe, while reminding her of the grueling chariot races in the Circus Maximus, the gruesome fabricated “hunts” in the Roman Forum, and the egregious animal slaughter that took place in the Colosseum – all for the sake of human enjoyment.
The ancient Romans were, like us, a diverse and complicated people. They were resourceful, intelligent, and innovative. They were also violent, ignorant, and opportunistic. In all these ways – both good and bad – we are the same.
The Colosseum in Rome is a testament to this. Awe-inspiring though it was to stand inside this architectural feat and to contemplate the ingenuity, hubris, and labor that went into its design and construction, it was equally disquieting. Imagining the amount of blood shed, bodies strewn, and lives wasted over the centuries...more
When I was a child, I acted compassionately towards animals without any thought – as if I didn’t know any better than to respond to those who needed my help. As an adult, I act compassionately WITH thought and believe that the informed kindness of an adult is even more profound than the innocent kindness of a child.more